Virgin Atlantic Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation have forged a long-term partnership which will see the airline install the award-winning eX2 in-flight entertainment system and eXPhone communications product onboard its A330 fleet of aircraft as well as a strategy for full connectivity onboard future aircraft. Virgin Atlantic will be the first UK long-haul airline to roll-out this service across its leisure fleet.
The eXPhone deal with Panasonics Avionics Corporation and their in-flight GSM smart phone partner AeroMobile, will enable passengers to make phone calls and send and receive texts and emails using their own mobile devices onboard.
Key features of the new eX2 in-flight entertainment system allow passengers to rate the films and read comment and critique from leading film critics. Passengers can also view interviews with the cast and directors and are able to easily search for their films of choice and create a play list for the flight using the ‘save for later’ functions.
Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented; “Virgin Atlantic has a well-deserved reputation for leading the way in in-flight entertainment and technology – we were the first airline to offer individual seat-back TVs for all passengers almost twenty years ago - and I have no doubt this system will again set new standards that our competitors will seek to follow.
“The system is simple and intuitive for passengers to use with around 300 hours of entertainment at their fingertips – quite literally using the latest touchscreen technology. We are confident that even our more technophobic passengers will find it easy to use. It is packed with blockbuster movies and award-winning TV shows along with a wide choice of music for all tastes and games so the time onboard will literally fly by.”
Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics, commented; “We are grateful to Virgin Atlantic for their ongoing loyalty and belief in us as a strategic technical partner. This alliance gives us the confidence to push the envelope, continue to innovate and deliver solutions that exceed Virgin’s expectations.”
In Premium Economy and Upper Class, passengers will be able to plug in a variety of their mobile devices to play their music, videos, pictures and documents on the seat-back screen. Passengers in all classes will be able to plug a USB in to view their own content. Live news updates, destination videos and an interactive map are also available amongst many other features.
The $2.1bn order for 10 A330s, which are due to be delivered from February 2011 and which can seat up to 313 passengers, will operate on many of Virgin Atlantic’s existing business and leisure routes worldwide as well as assisting future growth. The new twin-engine A330-300s will ensure that Virgin Atlantic maintains its reputation for flying one of the most modern and environmentally-friendly fleets in the world. It is nearly 10% more fuel efficient than the A340-300 aircraft.